Fri, Jul 02, 2004 - Page 3 News List

John Chang raises hand to lead China delegation


An offer by China's Taiwan Affairs Office to restart talks on direct links is a "window of opportunity" and Taiwan should grab the chance to treat the links as "cross-strait affairs of an economic nature," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴) said yesterday.

The former foreign affairs minister also said he would like to head a delegation of legislators to visit China and pave the way for further negotiations.

The Taiwan Affairs Office announced on Wednesday that the two sides could re-open talks if Taiwan accepted Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen's (錢其琛) positions on the three direct links -- transportation, trade and postal services.

Chang yesterday responded to China's announcement by saying that it offered a rare opportunity.

"It is a sign of mutual kindness, and if we don't grab the chance, this window of opportunity will be gone in a flash," Chang said.

Chang said that the Mainland Affairs Council should have civic groups enter into negotiations with China on the three direct links and then endorse the result.

"As long as we put political tensions aside, the technical and administrative aspects of the three direct links can be easily addressed," Chang said.

"I will set up a group of legislators and visit China in July to pave the way for negotiations," he said.

But Chang would not name the members of the group or the officials the group would meet.

He said that the three direct links should be defined as "economic affairs," and that as long as the council did its best, forging the links should not be a big problem.

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